About Making Stocks

Stocks are a great way to impart a lots of flavour to a Soup, a Stew or a Sauce. They are not hard to do.  Call me a Grand Ma if you wish, although I am not one, but I love simmering mine for ages and will not even think to use a pressure cooker to do one. No, I prefer to see the gentle bubbles, to have the lovely scent invading the kitchen, to write another chapter of one of my novels while the stock is doing its subtle thing and reducing down to something that will elevate my next dish.

Adding the chicken stock to the broth.jpg

Building up flavours in a Stock, simmer gently.

Confession for confession, I am not very well and struggled with my health for a while. I have to manage how I can eat a fullfilling meal despite being mobility challenged and having trouble to eat and swallow. I will not say that the answer is Stock but I will just say it does help in some ways.

If you are reduced to have cup a soup because you can not stand more than five minutes some days, on a good day do yourself the favour of doing a real good stock. It is difficult when you are partly disabled. When your own body can give way and you just fall on the floor. But you have to find ways to keep going. So you need to feed your body and a good Soup made with a decent Stock can provide a bit of energy, a bit of taste, a bit of being able to move if just for a few minutes: The ability to continue...

Celery Soup 2.jpg

A Celery Soup jazzed up. It dosen't tell you I am unwell it sings to you 'Hello Dolly, you looking fine dolly' à la Armstrong.

First, your stock is your stock: there is no rule apart your own one. Dictature does not apply here. You are free to create your stock. You choose the ingredients you put within it. Make it your own. And you can change your own recipe at anytime, you are free! There is no boundaries apart the ones that you set to yourself. 

Second, it is a good idea to make stocks of your stock. There I am speaking because I am not well physically. So making jars of nutritious food I can eat and swallow helps when I can do so. Make sure you label every jar correctly, content and dates. Those jars of Stock can help you to have a delicious meal because they are gold nuggets of tasty dishes to come in the future. Your fridge or freezer is your emergency Fort Knox.

Fish Stock Edited.JPG

Keeping Stock jarred up for later. It is easy to make more than less with stock but don't waste it, keep it!

Third, Stocks are versatile and a good way to use what you have at hand or to use what you have left over. A decent Sunday roast chicken can be transformed into a Stock with all its bones and rest of meat. You are of course the judge of whatever you want to eat. Religion, Allergy, Pescaterian, Vegetarian, Vegan, you are the king of what goes into your palate: you choose.

The start in my opinion is the Water. Make sure it submerge the ingredients you are using. I have no real rule of thumb on that one but if I deal with meat bones or lets just say the carcasse of an entire Chicken, it will be entirely covered with water from the beginning. So I use my largest cooking pot, my (which has been dubbed by my partner) 'the Cauldron' to create my Magic Concoction which is simply in my view called a good flavoursome Stock to use for later. It will simmer, gently and slowy on the lowest heat of the smallest hob I have, for ages. So there is no danger that you will have a spill over. But one tip is, to let it be, just like the song of the Beatles, 'Let it be, Let it be, Let it be, Let it be, Whisper words of Wisdom...' so simmer as gently as you can to have a Simmering World of Flavour in your Cookingdom... Well your 'Cauldron.'


Give or take, I usually have about five centimetres between the rim and the covered carcasse or meat of one sort or another. Then comes the other part and another song after the water, the fire... The Doors, Jim Morrisson, come on Baby light my fire. As I will repeat gently does it: Low heat, Take Time. Another tip, you do not need in that way to cover your cooking pot because then your Stock will stay put and not spill over everywhere. No lid required just attention, care and a bit of love for it to gather flavour. We could resume it as a bit of TLC.

This is when you can take your time, when the other ingredients are coming in and I will say some chopping action. In culinary circles, you have what is called the Trinity, the veg Trinity. It is not Holy: It is not set in rules that can defy life or gravity laws upon Earth. It does change with every human and areas of the world. As a human with a small voice, putting my hands up in the air, who has not the infuse science of it all, my trinity is usually: Carrots, Celery, and Leeks. 

The Veg Trinity.JPG

A Trinity: it is usually a trio of vegetables used as a base. It varies from families, to areas, to states but it is usually a good starting point for any Stock.

As for the chopping action, I will not go Bruce Lee or Bruce Willis or Dirty Harry on the veg. It is a going to the pot chopped roughly to give it flavour. Get the job done. However, from tendencies or habits, I can tell you that those essential Veg for me are cut at about 2 to 4 cm in length. Make sure to wash them clean off before putting them in the pot: No speck of soil or insects around to be seen. 

For my choices of veg, Carrots are essential for the health of your bones. They give calcium, vitamins K and A. Celery helps your antioxidants in your body, it also helps digestion, and reduces inflamation. As for Leeks, they will help your immune system. But I am not a Doctor, so do rely on a Doctor to make yourself better. Eating is the fuel for your body to keep going.

Chopped Leeks 2.JPG

Chopped Leeks.

The Aim of the game here is to impart flavour to your Stock. Therefore Spices and Herbs comes into the mix. A pinch of black Peppercorn, Some Sea Salt (I tend to put one to two table spoons, heeped or not heeped), this already gives a little seasoning. Two to three Garlic Cloves, crushed, but I do bother to peel them. However you can add more upon your taste or the result for your dish. You can also try different kind of garlic, like black garlic (it does go well with a strong fish stock of meaty fish like Monkfish or Turbot) or smoked garlic (which marries well with, pork, ham or gammon but even on small quantity venison). 


Garlic is one powerful ingredient to impart flavours to a Stock.

The Onion flavour does give a lovely subbtle kick to the Stock. There I will say again Bob is your uncle... I prefer leeks roughly chopped up. The entire veg goes in, the green and the white. The only left over is the little roots bit which I cut off and is not allowed in the stock. I tend to use normal leeks for meat or veg Stocks. However if I go for a fish or more refine stock I prefer using the miniature leeks. Then I do also chop them more thinely.

Sain's Baby Leeks Edited 1.JPG

 Baby Leeks suit Asian Stocks and Fish ones very well in my opinion.

To impart Onion taste to your Stock, there are very many choices: A large onion, quartered or not, white or red will do. My tendence to use red is more or less when I will prepare something inspired by the Meditaeranean dishes. As for a good old white Onion spiked with cloves, the norm is three cloves for half an Onion and six for an entire one. It infuses a delicious taste to the Stock you are preparing. This method works well with sauce, and milk base sauces as well.

Shallots however better used fried, sautéed and/or roasted can work very well with Stocks for venison, delicate wild birds, or a savoury veg stock for delicious mushroom soups, tomato soups or even asparagus soup. Make sure you peel them first. A little quail breasts and legs little broth with shallots and mushroom is an automnal dish delight.

Speaking of Onions, we must mention Spring Onions also (Scallions). The same goes for them either white or red, big or small. They will bring bags of flavours to a Stock. There I will say the subbtle Asian way with a clear Stock which could do with a right treat with slices of Spring Onions is a must. You can do it in so many way.

British Large Spring Onions Edited.JPG

Large Spring Onions. For any Spring Onions, you can chop the green tail to add it to your Stock.

What I am thinking about is some sort of Dashi. The use of Shitake Mushrooms, Kombu (edible Kelp), a tea spoon or two of fish paste, Nori sheets could also work. If you want a bit of heat you can had an whole dried or freshi chilli or sliced ginger. Miso will also add another level to your stock.

White Miso Paste.jpg

Miso, an excellent addition to Stocks.

Anyway you do your Stock for what it must sing of: which is I am hearty and I will warm you throughought, your belly and heart everytime...

Keep a lovely Stock made, used or saved for later: A Fort Knox to make you feel warm hearted better for a while.

The result Chicken and Mushrooms Miso Broth.jpg

A Stock makes an hearty soup or broth.


Duck Stock
Making Duck Stock
Shellfish Stocks
A Selection of Shellfish Stocks
Fish Stocks
A Selection of Fish Stocks

Dare I say that one of the first things I did learn to cook was a Fried Egg. My ones are always sunny side up. I also like them a little crispy around the edges to know that the white has been rendered properly. But the Eggs still need to have that exquisite runny yellow yolk at the centre to run free upon the plate. It is a little magical moment of bliss: A little like singing along to the song "My favourite things" from the Sound of Music Film with Julie Andrews.


The Breakfast Fry Up with fried Bread, Bacon and Eggs. It is simple yet fulfilling. It is the fuel to start the day or at least one's day. An Egg takes roughly four to five minutes to fry depending on its size, sometimes more, sometimes less.

There is one thing I will confess, which is, to like a Fried Egg with rough edges. When they are done within a ring or device so they do look neat, I think it kills the charm of the good old Egg coming from a proper Farm, from a Farm where the Chicken are roaming outdoors. My Grand Parents (RIP) lived most of their lives in Bourg en Bresse and there in the Bresse area of France the Chicken graze the grass, the green green grass, and you can taste the difference with the Chicken from a battery Chicken and from a Farm Egg from a battery Egg.


A Poulet de Bresse, de Bourg en Bresse, happy roaming in a field of clovers.

There are a variety of Eggs to be pan fried but being rather conventional I tend to stay in the realm of Chicken Eggs. However I venture very often in the kingdom of the rich Duck Egg with that bountiful dark yellow Yolk. If I do poach a Duck Egg more than I do fry it, I am still doing it often for the ratio between the white and the yolk. There is less white in a Duck Egg. The star there is truly and simply the luscious Yolk. A Duck Egg is full of proteins and different vitamins which is a plus. 


 Duck Eggs are of course larger than Hen's Eggs. 

If Duck Eggs may be harder to get because they are not the normal standard Egg, they are still worth the while to have and eat. The Fried Duck Egg add a touch of luxury upon an Easter Breakfast of Grilled Asparagus, and Shaved Truffles. Garnish with a little Chives, Black Pepper and Sea Salt as a finish then now we are talking simply of very simple lush Brunch.


Pan Fried Duck Egg upon Chips served with a good dollop of Lemon Mayonnaise, seasonned and garnished with chopped Parsley. This is a satisfying simple Lunch.

However I tried my hand to cook Quail Eggs as well. Sometimes it was successful and sometimes it was not. Is it that they are too small for my clumsy fingers...? Or is it that the matter of time is seriously reduced when cooking them? Hence you do need to keep an eye upon the clock and upon the Egg. This is a balancing act which one might crack: May it be the Quail Egg or you with a smile upon your face? But Fried Quail Eggs are quaint and definitely suitable to create Canapés and Appetizers.


Home Made Crostinis with Fried Quail Eggs topped with red Herrring Roe. It is simple and a rustic Canapé to be enjoyed.

They are plenty of ways to taste Fried Quail Eggs. I would say they are dainty but nice; that it is a taste the difference matter. Fried Quail Eggs can make a Bruschetta sing a little bit more for a nice Brunch or even Starter for Dinner time. With very little imagination, you can cover your Olive Oil oven toasted slice of Bread (Sourdough, Ciabatta or Baguette), with a Cream Cheese which is seasoned with added Ingredients of your choice (Chilli Flakes or a little pinch of Cayenne Pepper or a little Chive, or a little Dill, or a little shredded Basil, or a little chopped and roasted Garlic). On top of the whisked Cream Cheese, you can build a layer with a cured or smoked Ham (Prosciutto, Serrano, Parma Ham...even Bacon rashers). But you can also use Fish freshly cooked, smoked or cured. Then add your fried Quail Egg on top. This is an all so simple treat.


 Mini Pesto Pizza with mini Mozzarella Balls, Cherry Tomatoes, Basil and Fried Quail Eggs. It can make a nice Starter to an Italian theme Dinner.

Now there is something with most of Eggs you can do to fry them: It is the Scotch Egg. The recipe dates from a long time ago the 1800 plus so has evolved to be ever so different. The principle of it reside, in covering an Egg with Minced Meat then to bread the result in order to Fry it. Initially it was called the scortch Egg because it was fried but enclosed. However it became the Scotch Egg in the end. The history says that it was because Scotland was a big producer of Eggs. 


Scotch Eggs can be very dry but to have a runny yolk centre is part of the pleasure with them.

They can make a good Brunch or Lunch. Scotch Eggs are not as per say fanciful however you have a room to play there in term of cookery. Which Egg you are going to use? A Hen Egg, a large Duck Egg or a small Quail Egg...?

quail scotch egg.png

Quail Scotch Eggs Salad. You can do it with Lambs Lettuce or Pea Shoots. Serve it with or without Pancetta or Lardons.  Decorate the plate with edible Flowers like Viola. A simple French dressing can accompany everything even some chopped woodland Mushrooms to give the feel of Autumn to the plate.

Then with which minced Meat you are going to wrap your Egg? A spiced Mince most certainly, it could be Sausage Meat, Lamb Mince, Beef Mince, Turkey Mince but it can also be from a Fish as well like a Smoked Salmon or Trout.

salmon scotch egg.png

Salmon Mousse Scotch Quail Eggs served with pickled Radishes, Lamb Lettuce and Tartare Sauce.

It can be with Black Pudding, or the stuffing for Haggis... There you have the tools to make your Scotch Egg special. Seasoning the Breadcrumbs also does play a part in the entire making of a Scotch Egg. The result of your combinations usually makes a satisfying Lunch or Starter.

northern black pud eggs.png

 Black Pudding Scotch Eggs on a bed of peppery Rocket Salad dressed with a grain Mustard Vinaigrette: A Lunch that is packing a punch on a plate.

Speaking of Eggs there is of course the Eggy Bread. It is also called French Toast, French Fried Bread, Pain Perdu, Gypsy Bread. The concept comes from an old tradition to not loose Bread at any cost. Even if the Bread becomes old and stale, you can revive it with a source of life which is the Egg and another Ingredient which nurtures life which is Milk. Hence the Eggy Bread was born. Then it can become a Dish in itself or a base for either Savoury Dishes or Sweet Ones.


Eggy Bread Toasts. The principle relies on mixing Eggs and Milk together in order to revive the Bread. Soaking the Bread, usually overnight (in the old days) then Frying it made it all better.

You can turn the Eggy Bread savoury for a full Brunch experience, like with a Croque Monsieur with Ham and Cheese or a Croque Madame with the addition of the Fried Egg. The Croque Monsieur is in effect a Sandwich but a Fried one. It is a bang bang two slices of fried Bread, enclosing a decent slice of Ham and a Cheese with quality of the like of Gruyére or Emmental or Comté Cheese. A Mustard Sauce is usually applied to perk up everything. It could be Dijon Mustard whisked up with a little Mayo. But the result is licking fingers delish... The history of the Croque Monsieur dates from the 1800's. 

croque monsieur.png

The Croque Monsieur in all its glorious lushness. Before becoming a Bistro or Gastro Pub Treat, it was seen, regarded as a Gentleman's Club Treat.

From the Croque Monsieur to the Croque Madame there are only a few differences. The main one is the addition of the fried Egg on the Croque Madame. The Egg is meant to represent a Lady's wide brimmed hat. Another difference is that the Sauce Béchamel which can be used for the Croque Monsieur can be élévated to the Sauce Mornay for the Croque Madame. The little stamp is the inclusion of Cheese within the Sauce. The Sauce was créated by Philippe de Mornay who also créated the Sauce Béchamel back in the 1500's.

croque madame.png

 Croque Madame. Croque in French means to actually bite into something that has a crunch: Hence Fried Eggy Bread with a difference. 

Then you do have the Croque Mademoiselle: it is an evolution or a variation as per say of the original Croque Monsieur juste like the Croque Madame is a variation as well. This time the main difference is the inclusion of Vegetables within the 'Croque'. It can be totally vegetarian or a bit of a mix. It could be made with the essential Eggy Bread slices but also with sandwiched in between Asparagus, Parma Ham and Parmesan. It could be made with fried Courgettes, melted Mozzarella, Oregano and Espelette Chilli. It is up to the inspiration of the moment. The Croque Mademoiselle is a volatile fried Sandwich. To be blunt it is up to anyone's interpretation apart that it does need to contain a green Veg: Cucumber, Zucchini, Asparagus... For it is the Veg option out of all the Croques.

croque mademoiselle 2.png

Croque Mademoiselle with layers of fried Aubergines, Courgettes, roasted Red Sweet Bell Pepped, Cottage Cheese served with a fried Egg on top just like a Croque Madame. It had a Med Feel to it.

French Toast are not all savoury for some are sweet as well. Different combinations are there to be appreciated. A favourite one is served with fresh Berries: Strawberries, Blueberries, Raspberries... but also with a Jam or Preserve or Compote which could be made with Blackberries, Blackcurrants, Blueberries and the Eggy Bread will be accompanied with Custard. It is a yummy number.

eggy bread with fruit.png

Eggy Bread with Berries. It can be a small tea time treat but it is still special. Another version is made with dried Apricot and fresh ones, (It could be done with Nectarines and Peaches too). The addition of Apricot Jam traditionally done with Almond kernels renders everything lush. Toasted Almonds can add to the decoration in that case.

Similarly Bruschetta is a toasted slice of Bread usually it will be made with Pain de Campagne, Sourdough Bread, Ciabatta or Baguette as a base. The slice will be rubed with Garlic but also dipped in Olive Oil. Then it can be fried within a frying Pan or grilled. The toppings of the Bruschetta are up to you. The traditional ones are with chopped Tomatoes. But additional Ingredients can be added like Basil and, or Organo for Herbs, Capers and, or Olives for a little saltiness, even Anchovies could be considered. Chopped Preseved Lemon could be considered as well. Another combination is the chopped Tomatoes, chopped roasted Sweet Bell Peppers, crispy Shallots with the addition of Mozzarella Pearls or even a little slice or cubed Goat Cheese. 


Tomato and Sweet Red Bell Pepper Bruschetta with Basil and a little grated Parmesan. It can be a simple Brunch, an Appetizer or a Starter/Entrée. The addition of Kalamata Olives, or Olives stuffed with Anchovies can bring this Bruschetta to another level.

Concerning Dough you do have plenty which we do Fry which are sweet. During my childhood one of my favourites treats were the Croustillons. They came by 6, the dozen or 24. It was just little balls of Dough fried then sugared. They were ever so nice. We could have them and share between us three kids only on the Thursday and Saturday at the Market in Cherbourg. I can tell you that we were looking out for that Van and the Croustillons. They are from Northern Europe especially the coastal areas, from Holland, Belgium and France. 


Croustillons are like mini Donuts.

Then there is of course the Doughnut also spelled Donut. It feels like Homer Simpson dreaming of Donuts. I must confess to be partial to Sugared Ring Doughnuts. Although I am not a sweet tooth Fried Dough does it for me. For Tyn he loves his Jam Doughnuts. The matter of fact is that Doughnuts are versatile as per say as you can top them up the way you want to but also fill them up the way you like.


Sugared Ring Doughnuts. One Treat I can't escape from.

In France, a similar Fried Dough is called Beignet. They come in different shapes filled up or not. A Popular one is the Apple Beignet: Le Beignet aux Pommes. My Mum used to do them usually on the Saturday afternoon. It was a treat especially since Oil was expensive, it was important to do the most of it. Hence Fritters (Beignets) were the way to go. Beignets (Fritters) are dipped in French culture and the Italian one but also in the USA, from Louisiana (which was colonised by the French back in the days). It goes with the flow. 

The fillings for Beignets or Fritters are rather varied. Apple is a very popular one coming from areas in France who produces a lot of Apples like Normandy. Pineapple Fritters have their origins from Asian countries like Indonesia (Indochina). French colonists can be blamed for it as well. Then in the Créole Cuisine there are the Banana or, and Plantain Beignets/Fritters.